Baseball Weekend Preview
A pair of crucial ACC battles highlight the schedule
No. 2 Virginia at No. 11 Georgia Tech
The Cavaliers and Yellow Jackets enter the weekend series tied atop the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division with matching 11-1 league marks. Runs could come at a premium this weekend as these are the top two pitching staffs in the conference. Virginia is riding a 10-game winning streak, and is perfect on the road (7-0) so far this season. The Cavaliers starting rotation of Danny Hultzen (6-0, 1.36 ERA), Tyler Wilson (4-0, 1.90) and Cody Winiarski (4-1, 3.05) has combined to go 14-1 with a 2.05 ERA in 127.1 innings, while Georgia Tech's rotation of Mark Pope (7-0, 0.66 ERA), Jed Bradley (3-0, 1.85) and Buck Farmer (5-1, 2.11) has compiled a 15-1 with a 1.47 ERA in 141 innings this season. Georgia Tech also boasts the ACC's top offense with a .328 batting average, sparked by freshman Kyle Wren with an ACC-best .422 average. The Yellow Jackets lead the series 63-40-2, but Virginia has posted a 13-8-1 record against Georgia Tech since 2004.
- Schedule: April 8 at 7 p.m. ET; April 9 at 6 p.m. ET; April 10 at 12 p.m. ET.
No. 7 North Carolina at No. 10 Florida State
The Tar Heels have won 10 consecutive games against ACC foes after starting the league season 0-2, but the Atlantic Division-leading Seminoles will look to end UNC’s winning ways in Tallahassee. FSU has claimed seven consecutive series at Dick Howser Stadium, while UNC is off to its’ best start in school history at 27-4. Florida State’s pitching staff owns a 2.92 ERA, and is led by Friday night starter Sean Gilmartin (6-0, 1.30 ERA). The Seminoles lead the ACC with a .422 on-base percentage, while the Tar Heels pace the conference with 254 runs scored. The Seminoles lead the all-time series 62-27.
- Schedule: April 8 at 6 p.m. ET; April 9 at 6 p.m. ET; April 10 at 1 p.m. ET.
No. 6 Arizona State at No. 19 Oregon State
The Beavers will look to shut down the hot-hitting Sun Devils – the Pac-10’s second-best hitting team at .324 – with a pitching staff that owns a 2.80 ERA. OSU is batting just .271, but leads the league in walks drawn with 146. Johnny Ruettiger tops ASU with 19 RBI, while batitng a solid .348 on the year. Friday night’s pitching match-up will feature two right-handers as OSU’s Sam Gaviglio (5-1, 1.05 ERA) takes on ASU’s Brady Rodgers (4-1, 2.33 ERA). Gaviglio is the Pac-10’s second-ranked pitcher in ERA. OSU leads the series 13-12 in games played since 2005, while the Beavers are 3-1 against Top 25 teams this season.
- Schedule: April 8 at 5:35 p.m. PT; April 9 at 1:05 p.m. PT; April 10 at 1:05 p.m. PT.
No. 16 UC Irvine at No. 13 Cal State Fullerton
The top two teams in the Big West Conference are both riding hot streaks as Fullerton boasts a season-long nine-game winning streak, and the Anteaters have won their last five games entering the series. Both squads are also 3-0 in league action. UC Irvine paces the Big West in hitting with a solid .300 average, led by Jordan Fox, who is hitting at a .362 clip. The Titans will counter with the top pitching staff in the league, which owns a 2.41 ERA with a league-leading 222 strikeouts. UCI’s pitching is also top-notch as its staff holds a 2.88 ERA. CSF Sunday starter Tyler Pill is 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA and 28 strikeouts in his last three starts, and has allowed just one walk during the stretch. Fullerton leads the all-time series 69-23 since 1976.
- Schedule: April 8 at 7 p.m. PT; April 9 at 6 p.m. PT; April 10 at 2 p.m. PT (ESPNU).
No. 24 Alabama at No. 1 Vanderbilt
A Southeastern Conference showdown between the league’s two divisional leaders is a much-anticipated series, as both the Crimson Tide and Commodores enter the weekend with identical 7-2 records in conference action. The Commodores pace the league with a 2.28 ERA, led by a stellar starting rotation of Sonny Gray (6-1, 1.74 ERA), Grayson Garvin (5-1, 2.36 ERA), and Taylor Hill (2-0, 2.84 ERA). Offensively, junior Aaron Westlake leads the Commoores with a .413 batting average this season. Alabama’s Nathan Kilcrease 4-1, 1.90 ERA) is expected to start against Gray on Friday in a match-up of two the league’s top five leaders in ERA. Alabama leads the all-time series 84-47-2, and has won eight of the last 10 contests against the Commodores.
- Schedule: April 8 at 6 p.m. CT (CSS/ESPN3.com); April 9 at 2 p.m. CT; April 10 at 1 p.m. CT.
No. 9 Georgia College at No. 12 UNC Pembroke
Two nationally-ranked Peach Belt Conference foes meet for a cross-divisional match-up. Georgia College leads the PBC West, while UNCP will be battling to move up from third place in the PBC East. The Braves are riding a four-game winning streak, and enter the weekend with the second-best batting average (.315) and ERA (2.55) in the league. The Bobcats follow closely on the offensive side with a .312 team batting average, and are paced by Shawn Ward, the second-leading hitter in the league.
- Schedule: April 9 at 1 p.m. ET (DH); April 10 at 1 p.m. ET.
No. 21 UC San Diego at No. 16 Sonoma State
California Collegiate Athletic Association squads will meet for a four-game series beginning Friday as both are looking to improve their records in the league standings. Sonoma State has won seven of its last eight contests, and is strong on its home field with a 14-1 mark. The Seawolves are the only team in the CCAA with less than a 3.00 ERA (2.98) led by Kenny Arnerich (5-0, 1.80 ERA). The Tritons will counter with starting pitcher Tim Shibuya, who boasts a 6-2 mark and 2.25 ERA, and needs just 11 strikeouts to become the school’s all-time leader in the category. Offensively, Danny Susdorf leads the Tritons with a .373 average and hit .526 three doubles, four RBI and three runs scored against Cal State L.A. last weekend.
- Schedule: April 8 at 2 p.m. PT; April 9 at 11:30 a.m. PT (DH); April 10 at 11 a.m. PT.
No. 14 Barry at Nova Southeastern
Cross-town rivals clash in a Sunshine State Conference series as two of the top teams in the league jockey for position in the standings. Barry sits in first place with an 11-1 mark heading into the weekend, while NSU is sitting in third place with a 9-3 record. Barry senior first baseman Dean Green leads the SSC with 48 RBI and 14 doubles, while NSU senior centerfielder centerfielder Andrew Durden tops the conference with 39 runs scored, nine homers and a .743 slugging percentage. Barry boasts the top ERA in the SSC at 3.17.
- Schedule: April 8 at 6 p.m. ET; April 9 at 1 p.m. ET (DH).
No. 7 UW-Whitewater at No. 10 UW-Stevens Point
UW-Whitewater has gotten off to a quick start in Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action with a 4-0 mark, while the UWSP will be playing in its first league series this weekend. The Warhawks are riding a six-game winning streak and rank second in the league in batting average (.361), ERA (3.19) and stolen bases (25). UWW’s Daniel Putnam is batting an eye-popping .534 with eight RBI on the season, while UWSP’s Dan Douglas is second in the WIAC with a .462 batting average.
- Schedule: April 9 at 12 p.m. CT (DH); April 10 at 12 p.m. CT (DH).
Averett at No. 1 Shenandoah
The Hornets can clinch their first-ever USA South regular season title with a sweep of Averett this weekend, however the Cougars are known to put a damper on things, snapping Christopher Newport’s 25-game winning streak last month. The Hornets lead the league with a .358 batting average, and have three players batting over .400 paced by sophomore infielder Kurt Krout’s .435 batting average. Shenandoah All-American Greg Van Sickler is one of the nation’s top two-way players with a 7-1 record and 1.84 ERA, along with a .402 average and 30 RBI.
- Schedule: April 9 at 1 p.m. ET; April 10 at 1 p.m. ET.
No. 5 Texas-Tyler at Louisiana College
Louisiana College will be looking to make a statement against the American Southwest Conference’s top-ranked team as the Wildcats try to strengthen their first place position in the East Division. UT Tyler stands at second place in the East. The Patriots lead the ASC in batting (.351), ERA (2.51) and fielding percentage (.977). The Patriots are led offensively by Nate Clifton, who tops the ASC in batting with a .485 average, while Tyler ace Chad Sherman (7-0) is first in the conference with a 1.03 ERA.
- Schedule: April 8 at 6 p.m. CT; April 9 at 12 p.m. CT (DH)